Why Bother Telling Stories in Games?

Ian Bogost’s article in The Atlantic puts forth the suggestion that games as a means of interactive storytelling is somehow a waste of time and also selling the medium short. A few quotes from the article to summarize his point: On the whole, there is nothing to fault in What Remains of Edith Finch. It’s a lovely little title with ambitions scaled to match their execution. Few will leave it unsatisfied. And yet, the game is pregnant with an unanswered question: Why does this story need to be told as a video game? Then Later: The true accomplishment of What Remains of Edith Finch is that it invites players to abandon the dream of interactive storytelling at last. Yes, sure, you can tell a story in a game. But what a lot of work that is, when it’s so much easier to watch television, or to read. » read more

Old Gamers Never Die – They Just Respawn Slower

Stephen spent 174 days in the survival adventure game from The Molasses Flood called The Flame in the Flood, logging over 136 miles on the river in the game. Eventually he ran out of procedurally generated river and resources to scavenge. He drifted along the widening river until it became a virtual lake, ultimately starving to death. It was, of course, not his first playthrough. He had poked and prodded the systems in the game over playthroughs that lasted entire days, and that didn’t even take into account the many hours outside the game he spent thinking about solutions and discussing his options with his wife. The stunning graphics invited him in, and the aesthetic made him stay. Lewis Gordon’s in depth Waypoint article delves into what led 63 year old Stephen to spend so much time in the game before moving on to Firewatch and other games. » read more

Constraint as Creative Catalyst

Anyone who has participated in a Game Jam can tell you how the ticking clock affects the choices you make. Knowing that time and resources are limited, a game developer has to make hard choices if they want to finish something before the jam ends. The same principle is brought to bear by the theme. Many developers view the theme as a tool for preventing jammers from getting an early start and therefore an unfair advantage, but its real value is that it provides a focal point for inspiration. Ian Dallas is the creative director at Santa Monica based independent game studio Giant Sparrow. They recently released their second game, What Remains of Edith Finch, which led to him taking part in a series of promotions for the new game. Of note was his “Ask me Anything” session on Reddit in which he talked about how the constraints of time » read more

How to BGSjam Like a Pro

If you've never participated in a game jam before, it can be a bit daunting. We at BGS wanted to try to make it a little easier for beginners (and pros!), so we put together this handy introductory doc to jamming at a BGSjam. Read along here, or grab the latest version via Google Docs. Advice for BGSJammers 1) Don’t Be a Hero - Use a Game Engine! It is called a game jam for a reason. If you want to build your own game engine – go ahead, just make sure you have finished it before the BGSJam starts, so you can spend those precious 48 hours making a playable game. Don’t waste your programming kung fu on writing a game engine during the jam, use it to make a game! (Unless you are making a networked multiplayer game in Visual Basic on a dare. Even then reconsider. » read more